Have you ever been performing a relaxation massage and come across a tight congested bunch of tissue? I bet you have! The client may have come in expressing a desire to relax or may have only paid for a Swedish massage, not the potentially more expensive Deep Tissue therapy. If you focus on the knot, you may get sucked in and lose sight of the client’s desire to relax, yet if you bump over the congestion without paying additional attention, you may not be serving the client to the best of your ability. What do you do when faced with this tricky predicament?
In these cases, I use a simple 5 step process that helps tissues disperse tension gently and effectively. These 5 steps can be used on any part of the body, can be applied at any pressure level, and easily integrated into any routine.
Step 1: Shake or Rock the Affected Area for At Least 1 Minute
There are many variances in how you can perform rocking and shake. In this case, shaking is done by grasping the muscle belly and moving the tissue back and forth with an even tempo. Rocking is also a rhythmic movement, but the pressure is distributed over a larger area and not specific. In both cases, you maintain continuous contact with the tissue. Both can be gentle to vigorous, but in this scenario, we stay more on the side of gentle. The primary difference in deciding to rock or shake (or both) depends on the tissue you are dealing with and the client's position.
Step 2: Slow Compressions to the Affected Tissue
Gently apply broad compression to the tissue around the congestion. Hold the compression for at least 12 seconds. Repeat several times, working your way around the tight tissues inching closer to the epicenter of congestion with each progression. You can do a few gentle rocks in between compressions to distribute tension.
Step 3: Perform Several Elongation Strokes to Affected Tissues
Elongation strokes can be performed in multiple directions. Just be sure to start the stroke well before the area you are targeting and complete the stroke well after. Strokes need to be complete in that they trace the entire length of the tissue. It is also important to Lock and Load the tissue using Airplane Contact.
Step 4: Gentle Targeted Pressure Point Holds to the Effected Tissue
This isn’t Trigger Point! We are not working at a therapeutic level of 7 on a pain scale of 10. We are more at a 2 or 3. To an observer, it may look the same because we are holding specific points, but we are doing it with very gentle pressure. Holding each point for a few seconds lightly starts to move around and out from the point in a circular motion. This helps keep the feel of a relaxing massage.
Step 5: Integrate any Changes by Using Movement to Unwind and Relax the Client.
This can be done with gentle stretches to the entire body at the end of the session or to the specific target area after completing all of the above steps.
Remember, we are trying to stay in the relaxation phase, so none of the steps are intended to result in pain, nor should you spend a long time completing any steps. You should be able to get through all 5 steps in less than 4 minutes for any specific area. This may not disperse all of the tension or congestion, but it will allow you to address the area while still maintaining a relaxing focus on the therapy! Give it a try and let us know what you think!